Sunday, June 26, 2011

Nazirpur, Malda, West Bengal - A trip to my Ancestral home

Our Ancentral house in Nazirpur, Malda
This was one nostalgic trip for me. Most of our summer vacations, when we were at school, were spent in our ancestral home in a village by the name of Nazirpur in Malda,West Bengal.It used to be great fun! Meeting up cousins, chatting whole night long, getting spoilt by my grandmother, long walks to the mango orchards...Malda is best known for its mangoes, during summers, I remember surviving mostly on mangoes (did not want to dilute that pleasure with any other substitute!)

I have not been to the village in ages. After my grandmother passed away, there was no one to visit, and slowly our visits stopped.

My father who feels the vacuum the most, visits now and then. But he is now getting on in years and can't make these trips that often. The house is no longer lived in and it now stands desolate, badly in need of repairs, and in need of love and care. (it is easily over hundred years!)

We took an overnight train, Gour express, to Malda. Malda town is extremely crowded, most of the people from the villages have settled in here because of education, work etc. So the villages are getting empty and the towns overcrowded...

We hired a car, Nazirpur is around 35 kms from Malda town, It was nice to escape the humdrum of the town. The drive was a visual delight, once we got out of the town, we could see mango orchards, green and beautiful. There were occassional interruptions in the form of concrete jungles of course! This area has developed a lot since I last visited.
Mango tree

Mango orchard near Malda

We reached Nazirpur within an hour. I remember when I was very small, we used to walk through the mango orchards to reach the house, I used to love to hold the mangoes, and my father would tell us the name of the mangoes. The mangoes would be hanging so low that you could reach them even if you were crawling!

This time we drove straight to the house. I was very curious and excited to get inside it but my father wanted to get it cleaned up since it has been in a locked up for almost a year!

Here are some snaps of the house as it stands today; the area around the house is so fertile that it takes no time for a jungle to grow all around the house.

Entrance to the house
View of the main building from the courtyard

On the left is the baithakkhana, where my grandfather used to meet guests. On the right is the view of the main house, on the left is what used to be known as the "Gola ghar", that's where the grains were stored. The right concerete wall is what used to be the kitchen. It is no longer functional.

View from the terrace

Just after entering, there is a well, which now lies unused, the water from this well used to be so very cold (i still remember every time i took a bath my teeth used to start clattering)The picture on the right has been taken from the terrace, the left roof is that of the kitchen, behind that the baithakkhana's roof can be seen, a bit of the well can be seen after that, the structure after the well, is the bath room, right behind it is the place where our cows used to be kept, there used to be a shelter for them, then. The roof on the right is the roof of the "gola ghar".

Terrace of the house

More on my trip to Nazirpur Malda, in my next post.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tigers Galore at Kanha and Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Male tiger at Kanha National Park, India
My sister, Soma, recently went for a trip to Kanha National Park and Pench in Madhyapradesh. And guess what...she sighted not one ...not two ...not even three...but seven tigers!

She is so lucky, she sighted tigers in both the national parks she visited, Kanha and Pench. At Kancha National park, the chances of sighting a tiger is very high. Though in her case she spotted the maximum number of tigers in Pench!

Soma tells me that she had given up any hopes of sighting a tiger, when all of a sudden, during one of her last safari trips (fifth safari), she sighted a male tiger in Kanha for over fifteen minutes!

Kanha National Park is located in Madhya Pradesh. The nearest airport is at Jabalpur (175 km). Soma and her group flew to Nagpur from Kolkata, and then hired a transport to take her to Kancha. Kanha has a rich habitat of many otehr animals like the Sloth bear, leopard, striped hyena, spotted dear, wild boar, jungle cat, jackal and a variety of monkeys. Over 200 spices of birds have been spotted in the park. Soma who is an avid birder spotted over sixty birds in Kanha which includes Indian Scimiter Babbler, Jungle Owlet, White-Naped Woodpecker. Soma of the other animals that she sighted in kanha were - Barking Deer, Barasingha, lots of Indian Bisons from close quarters, two playful Dholes, three baby jackals playing with each other, a Ruddy Mongoose, Tree Shrew, Flapshell Turtle.

Pench National Park is also in Madhya Pradesh, it is located in the Southern part of Madhya Pradesh. it is around 70 km from Nagpur, and around 275 kms from Kanha. There is a high population of Chital and Sambar in Pench.

She spotted a lot of birds in Pench too. Birds like the Crested Treeswift, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Eurasian Thicknee, White-eyed Buzzard ... The best part of her trip was spotting a tigress with five cubs ! The cubs were about seven months old and they were playing in the water and the mother of course was all protective about them.

Indian blackbird (Pench National Park)   Jungle Owlet (Kanha National Park)

Tigress at Pench National Park

I am uploading some pics that Soma sent me from this trip.I think summers are the best time to spot a tiger because that's when they come to the water bodies to quench their thirst. A rendezvous is most likely then. I must plan my next jungle trip to kancha and Pench, perhps next summers.Can't wait to go to the Jungles again. I need a break from the concrete Jungles. need to be in the midst of nature. I just love it. There is something wonderful about it!